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Top 5 David Walliams' Books for Children

David Walliams Boy In The Dress

Top 5 David Walliams' Books for Children
by Hazel Fernandez | Posted on 16th October 2020

David Walliams is the literary equivalent of a Fun Uncle. You know the one. Your children beg to have him around for tea and flock to him at every family occasion. He’ll pick them up and dangle them upside down in a way that looks frankly dangerous, and he has aeons more energy than any actual parent ever could. As a staid and sensible Mum or Dad you might bite your lip when you hear some of his more inappropriate jokes -

“Close that potty mouth, Jamie!”

“But Muuuum, Uncle Walliams says it!”

But any misgivings dissolve when you hear the peals of laughter and see the bright eyed admiration coming from your child. The non-favoured family members might look at Fun Uncle and enviously comment that he relates so easily to the children because he is in fact just a big child himself. But everyone knows that past the rambunctious games and gross-out jokes Fun Uncle has a heart of pure gold.

Walliam’s magic is condensing Fun Uncle down and putting all that rollicking good nature into a book. Life lessons about accepting people for who they are and helping those less fortunate than you wrapped up in accessible writing and jokes about your nan doing naked yoga and farts.

David Walliams has written a whopping 14 children’s novels, as well as seven picture books for younger children and five short story collections. He’s often compared to Roald Dahl, and for obvious reasons: he writes deliciously nasty villains (always grown ups), plucky heroes (always kids), and his books are wildly popular. As one of my children's unsung heroes and ahead of his new children's book "Little Monsters", I have picked our Top 5 David Walliams' Books for Children.

1. The Boy In The Dress

At its heart The Boy in the Dress is a novel about tolerance and acceptance. 12 year old Dennis lives with his older brother and overweight Dad, in a home left hurting by the absence of his Mum, who walked out on them five years earlier. Dennis is a normal boy, living in a normal house, but he is different. The book follows his realisation that he loves everything fashion - he hides copies of Vogue under his mattress, has a huge crush on the glamorous budding dress designer he meets in detention, and is aching to try on beautiful dresses himself. With the support of his best friend Darvesh, Dennis fights for acceptance from his family and teachers and leads the school football team in some of their biggest matches yet.

David Walliams Gangsta Granny 2. Gangsta Granny

Ben is an 11 year old boy who thinks his granny is nothing more than a cabbage cooking, scrabble playing farter. That is until he uncovers her secret life as an international jewel thief, and is catapulted into a world of mobility scooter topped heists. Gangsta Granny is the wickedly funny tale of a boy’s collaborative conniving with his dear old Gran. Throughout it imparts the message of valuing your older family members, of remembering that they were young once, and that you will one day be old.

3. Awful Auntie

Poor Stella was left orphaned after her rich parents died in a car accident. Now her truly terrible Aunt Alberta is doing her best to trick her out of her rightful inheritance, Saxby Hall, and generally make her life as miserable as possible. Stella befriends Soot, the ghost of a Victorian chimney sweep, and the two are set against Alberta and her sidekick Wagner the Great Bavarian Mountain Owl. There’s also the wonderfully comic character of Gibbons, the doolally butler who makes hilarious mistakes - dirty socks for tea, anyone? With it’s twisty turny plot Awful Auntie is a guaranteed page turner.

4. The World's Worst Children 3

All five of Walliam’s short story collections are part of his “The World’s Worst…” series (not to be unfair to children, he’s also rounded up tales of horrifically bad parents and teachers). Some parents swear by this series as bridging the gap between reading short books and novels, and it’s easy to see why. The text itself is engaging; creative typography dances around the page with a liberal sprinkling of Tony Ross’ excellent illustrations, and I’m sure many a reluctant reader has raced through these stories. But I think this is a perfect book to read aloud as a family. There’s something that’s very genuinely funny about taking the tricky moments all children have and exaggerating them to the extreme. I loved reading Bonnie Bossypants to my own pint sized dictator, and she was delightfully scandalized by the way Bonnie could make her parents cower. I’m sure a family with a teenage beauty queen would get a kick out of Honey the Hogger who spends entire days in the bathroom working on her tan using gravy granules. And if you think that you’ve found the screams of your toddler grating today, then consider Tandy, who, when her parents start to block out her caterwauling with headphones, takes the initiative to pinch the giant speaker used for the rock concerts at the football stadium to amplify her complaints.

5. There's a Snake in my School

It’s in David Walliam’s picture books that the great talents of illustrator Tony Ross really shine. There’s a Snake in my School has had a special place in my heart since my daughter found it in the library aged about three. She must have asked me to read it a hundred times before it was due back and every single time she got to the page where the children are playing with the snake (it’s a see saw, a swing, a skipping rope…) she absolutely lost it. Pure mirth. A wonderful romp about an unconventional pet on Bring Your Pet to School Day, and how it comes up against the animal hating headteacher.

About The Blog Author
Hazel Fernandez is a postgraduate student living in London. When she's not buried under a pile of books she's usually drinking coffee, riding a bike or looking after her small children. She'd love to hear from you, find her on Twitter @Fern_Hazel_

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